I'm not quite sure how to formulate the question here. I built myself a low energy NAS with an Intel N4200 with 8GB RAM. For the hard drives I'm using two WD red in a Raidon GR3660-B3 which is running in Raid 1 mode in Hardware (It has no cache).

I use the system for storing family pictures,files and other stuff that I would really like not to loose. But also other stuff like movies and things I need access to every day.

But what is worrying me is the Hardware Raid 1 and the fact that if the disk case would die some day, I'm locked out of all my data, as from what I understand, every HW raid implementation uses its own format, and I wouldn't be able to just directly connect the disk to the PC to recover my data. With software Raid 1 like in ZFS this should be possible though (As far as I'm aware of). I would really like to be able to do that in case of emergency.

Recently I started reading a bit about software Raid and especially about ZFS, but the opinions seems to contradict themself. On one side it seems that software Raid and hardware raid speeds have reached a point of similar speeds with minimal overhead, but on the other hand I've read that ZFS requieres some immense amount of resources, and that speed gets drastically hit by this.

Right now I'm running Debian and I have the drives running in HW Raid 1 and the whole system runs pretty snappy. My ram usage rarely gets over 2GB.

So my question basically is: From your experience, should I invest time into migrating my setup to a OpenBSD system with software Raid 1 in ZFS? Or is the CPU and RAM overhead of ZFS just too huge and the best way is just to stick to the HW raid?

I'd like to just make an informed decision before doing anything, so hopefully somebody with some ZFS usage experience with low power devices can share it's experiences.

P.D: I have a offsite backup on a cheaper setup (Raspberry Pi with a single desktop hard drive). I rsync to it the most important files every month or so (But it's less reliable and I don't want to rely on it completely). But my concern mostly goes to my more expensive RAID 1 setup, that once the HW RAID decides to die, I'm completely locked out of my data (And the data duplication is for nothing), and as the HW RAID device is some home use product, it is unknown if I'll be even able to buy another one. So my hopes are that in the worst case for me ("HW Controller dies and one Hard Drive also"), to be still be able to recover the data by myself my just connecting the healthy drive to the PC.

  • I use the system for storing family pictures,files and other stuff that I would really like not to loose. So, what kind of backups do you have? RAID is not a backup. All RAID does - of any form - is improve the ability to access your data in case of hardware failure. It doesn't protect against other ways to lose data. – Andrew Henle Apr 1 '18 at 14:36
  • I'm aware that RAID is not a backup. I have one off site backup with a cheaper setup (A Raspberry Pi with a single desktop hard drive) where I rsync the most important files every month. But having a dual HD setup in RAID 1 that will get completely unrecoverable whenever the HW raid controller decides to die (As this it's not an enterprise device, it is unclear if I'll be able to buy another identical one, and I would really like not to rely on that [As a bonus, the device formats the hard drive if it finds an unsupported format]), this just doesn't sounds like a secure setup. – Robert Koszewski Apr 3 '18 at 13:13
  • If you take regular backups, and backups of the backups, you should be fine with the current setup for now, then switch over to ZFS (or LVM/software RAID) when you're ready to redo $allthethings. ^_^ – Mioriin Apr 4 '18 at 17:03

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